Healthcare Background Checks: How Can Sex Offenders Volunteer?

healthcare background checks“The Richard Roudebush VA Hospital in Indianapolis has 10 convicted sexual predators volunteering,” stated the Fox 59 news reporter on the TV as I walked into the bedroom. Ok, you have my attention.  I had just spent the past two hours right next door to the VA Hospital on the IUPUI campus watching the final game of the Pro Am Basketball League Tourney (probably the last glimpse for a while of pro players with the NBA lockout).

How could that be?   The Veterans Administration does not require healthcare background checks?

I had spent several hours earlier in the day discussing the new Indiana Professional Licensing Board background check requirements.  The push behind the new law was to make sure healthcare professionals in Indiana had undergone a thorough criminal background check.

Although, I don’t think we can expect high quality healthcare background checks since the IPLA requires a check of the FBI’s database.  The same database that was under fire last week during the EEOC meeting on the use of criminal records by employers.  The EEOC had exposed a long held truth that the FBI database is terribly incomplete and may contain only 50% of all criminal records.

Roulette background checks.  Well, that is another post.

The truth is the new law in Indiana only applies to new licenses.  It does not apply to:

  1. Renewal of license
  2. Unlicensed employees in a healthcare facility; or
  3. Volunteers

There is no requirement, it appears, for a volunteer at a VA Hospital to undergo a criminal background check.  I tried first thing this morning to download the volunteer application off the Roudebush VA Hospital website.  No luck.  A redirect just brought me back to an information page.

The response from the VA hospital was this was a rehabilitative program.

Say what?  Show me one shred of evidence that even indicates we might be able to rehabilitate a sex offender.  I spoke recently with a director of a statewide sex offender management program that contracts with a state department of corrections and I asked her point blank:  Is there any program that is effective with working with sex offenders.

She said no.

So how does a VA hospital think it can rehabilitate a sex offender by allowing them to volunteer?  And not only volunteer, roam the hallways and allow access to thousands of vulnerable patients, staff and visitors.

Frightening.  Well, negligent is the correct word.

The EEOC rekindled a huge debate on minimizing the use of criminal background checks because it has an adverse impact on ex-offenders.  Did their crime have an adverse impact on the victim?

The State of Indiana just passed legislation that makes it easier to “wipe clean” all misdemeanors and Class D felonies that are non-violent.

So the pendulum has swung back from the post-9-11 safety and security consciousness.  Where is all of this heading?  Will felons and sex offenders be our next protected class (maybe if the EEOC has their way)?

The real question is, does this make you feel safer?